India’s world championship medallists Bajrang Punia, Deepak Punia and Ravi Dahiya will be seen in action on the 4th and final day of the UWW Ranking Series Wrestling in Rome today (Friday).
India already has won 5 medals at the season’s first UWW ranking series event. The men’s freestyle outcome is expected to be a perfect icing on the cake.
All eyes will on Bajrang, Deepak and Dahiya.
Bajrang Punia Good for Gold
Indian camp will be gunning for another gold from the series after Vinesh Phogat’s triumph last night. In the 65 kg category, 2018 word silver medallist and 2019 world championship bronze-medal winner Bajang is favourite to pick the gold. The field in Rome is depleted in the absence of top Russians and Otugoro of Japan. Bajrang’s main competition will come from world championship bronze medallist Iranian Behnam EHSANPOOR on his road to a potential fourth career Ranking Series gold.
Yazdani injured, Deepak Punia favourite
India’s junior world champion and senior world championship silver medallist Deepak Punia will start as the top seed and the favourite in the absence of Olympic and World Champion Hassan Yazdani of Iran in 86kg. Punia’s toughest opponent will be 2018 world silver medallist Fatih ERDIN of Turkey and 2020 Olympian Myles AMINE (SMR).
Ravi Dhaiya holds promise in 61 kg
In the 61kg contest, Ravi Dhaiya will be seen in action. The 2019 World Championships bronze medallist has switched from his regular 57 kg category. Dhaiya who is currently ranked No. 3 in the UWW world rankings in the category has decided to play in the Non-Olympic category of 61kg.
It is worth noting that Dhaiya has qualified for Tokyo 2020 in the 57 kg freestyle. Not only this, in the recently conducted trials by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), Ravi competed and won the trials in 57kg itself. But the last-minute switch to 61kg Non-Olympic category took everyone by surprise.
WrestlingTV reached out to Dhaiya in Rome and he confirmed the development. “Yes it is correct I will play in 61kg here in the Rome ranking series. I don’t want to reduce my weight at the stage as my entire focus is on the Asian Championships in Delhi where I will come back to my original weight in the 57kg.”
Only 4 players have entered in the 61 kg event, including Dhaiya and two Kazakh grapplers.
Jitender on test in 74kg
If someone will be on his biggest test tonight, then he is Jitender from India. The Haryana grappler had qualified for the Indian team after winning the WFI trials but still has to perform to justify his place in the Indian squad as sword in the garb of Sushil Kumar is still hanging on his head.
If Jitender can perform here in 74kg category against the likes of Frank Chamizo (2019 world medallist), Kyle Dake (World Champion 79kg), he will end uncertainty over his place for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifiers.
Watch the Indian freestyle wrestlers in action LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on www.wrestlingtv.in today from 3 PM.
LIVE Broadcasting SCHEDULE on WrestlingTV.in
Saturday (January 18)FS – 57-61-65-70-74-79-86-92kg
3:00 PM – Qualification rounds
5:30 PM – Semi-Finals
6:00 PM – Repechage Rounds
10:00 PM – Finals – FS – 57-61-65-70-74-79-86-92kg / Award ceremonies
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